Tourist information on Kingston Riverside walk, boat rides, ancient market place and things to do in Kingston, pictures and videos
If you are looking for a fun day out in London, Kingston-upon-Thames is there to tick all the boxes. From scenic riverside walks, boat rides, shopping, ancient market places and not to forget Hampton Court palace within easy reach, Kingston has it all. Not many towns in London has as many charms as Kingston and its surrounding areas have on offer. You can choose from a stroll along the Queen’s Promenade that starts from the town centre close to many well-known shops, or sit by the riverside with many trendy pubs and restaurants right on the river bank. There are plenty of boat rides that set off from Kingston/Surbiton area to Hampton Court and if you buy a return ticket which usually works out much cheaper, you can plan a whole day packed with fun activities and sightseeing.
London’s Rural Thames
The stretch from Hampton Court Palace to fashionable Chelsea Harbour is a span of 22.5 miles of stunning string of some of the world’s most famous attractions. Comprising of splendid gardens, vast parklands and secluded green spaces, this iconic stretch of London is guaranteed to take visitors by surprise. The riverside paths of Thames is one of the great pleasures of London life owing to its soothing routes, riverside pubs and not to forget the majestic swans, and other elegant species of birds.
It can be said without any doubts that no other capital city in Europe can match what London has to offer both indoors and out.
Queen’s Promenade, Kingston upon Thames
This sweeping promenade was inaugurated by Queen Victoria herself in 1856 when a thousand school children lined the road. The promenade stretches from Kingston Town centre to as far as Ravens Ait, a small island on the Thames which we will talk about too. There are plenty of benches along the riverside and flowers bloom in hundreds of colours in summer making it a spectacular walk. There is also a public toilet conveniently located by the river, well mainainted and free of charge. In summer, many people prefer to take picnics to the Queen’s Promenade and it gives away a festive vibe with jolly people just having a great time.
One can sit at one of the benches and spend time just staring at the boats, swans swimming or people rowing while the clock ticks away without a care in the world. There is the Thames Sailing Club that was started in 1870 and a clubhouse was built opposite the small island, Raven’s Ait. The special conditions created by a narrow waterway and tree lined banks can be seen taken advantage of by boats with masts of over forty feet high sometimes.
The Ait – or Eyot (old English for island) which can be seen up-river from Kingston, was originally used to grow Osiers for Kingston’s basket makers. From 1861 to 1968, the island was the home of Kingston Rowing club until they moved to Canbury Gardens, North Kingston.
The island has Royal connections too. Kingston has hosted Royal Court from the Saxon Times, and King John made frequent visits to Kingston. John became nationally unpopular, and the Barons offered the crown to Louis, the eldest son of the King of France. However, after John’s death in 1215, the Barons changed their minds and crowned John’s nine year old son Henry III instead. Subsequently, they rowed Louis to the seclusion of Ravens Ait where they devised ‘The Treaty of Kingston’, conferring the crown on young Henry.
Flying Boats, star of Battle of Britain – the Hurricane and Kingston
The Sopwith Aviation Company was established in Kingston in 1912 and at the time they were developing seaplanes for the Royal Naval Air service. They were using Thames as a ‘runway’ for test flights as the local constabulary gave their approval. However, due to the Thames Conservancy Board’s objection, proprietor Tommy Sopwith moved down-river to Richmond.
Tommy Sopwith and his ex-test pilot Harry Hawker later formed the Hawker Engineering Company. And so began the enterprise which produced many planes for World War 2, including the Hurricane, which excelled in the Battle of Britain.
The walk between Kingston and Hampton Court Palace
The walk itself is 2.9 miles between Kingston upon Thames and Hampton Court Palace and will take approximately an hour forming part of the Thames Path. Starting from Kingston town centre, walkers and cyclists can come across sights including the Barge walk, Hampton Court Palace, and the 700 acres Home Park that features deer park, ponds and other waterways which is sanctuary for wildlife. The Home Park also joins Hampton Court Palace with Kingston. The remains of the first bridge crossing the Thames outside of London can also be found along this walk.
History of Seething wells where Dr John Snow proved Cholera to be ‘waterborne’
On your walk from Kingston to Hampton Court, you will come across the Seething Wells on the opposite side of the river in Surbiton. The waterworks used throughout the Victorian times was where Dr John Snow was able to prove that Cholera was ‘waterborne’ and the discovery led to an end of the outbreaks that haunted London.